The Galaxy S4 family: familiarity vs brand dilution

by: Adam KoueiderMay 19, 2013

samsung galaxy s4 vs galaxy s3 s4 touchwiz aa

In 2012, Samsung began its familiarity strategy. It’s hard to miss a newer Samsung phone on the streets because they all have that definitive look. Plastic rounded body, usually in white, the devices were basically mini or maxi Galaxy S3 versions.

This design philosophy was then transferred to Samsung’s tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

Samsung is able to churn out a lot of devices aimed at a lot of niche markets and then observes to see which can become hits. This is of course how the Galaxy Note range came to fruition, but now Samsung is taking its familiarity strategy one step further.

Galaxy S4 – the strategy continues

The Galaxy S4 already incorporates many similarities with its sibling, the Galaxy S3, both in physical design and software. This means that there was already a familiarity from the S3, or any Samsung smartphone from 2012 for that matter, and people would be more inclined to buy something they were already familiar with.

samsung galaxy s4 vs galaxy s3 together aa

This was extremely successful for Apple’s iPhone as the device became almost synonymous with the word smartphone. Of course now the market is much more different. However Android still has a brand recognition problem. Surveys have shown that the Galaxy brand is becoming more recognised than Android, and this could develop into a problem for Google. Are people buying Samsung smartphones for the Google services, or the Samsung Galaxy brand?

Galaxy S4 Mini – mini phone big plans

Samsung gets it, there are some people who are simply not inclined to learn hand gymnastics, or prefer a smaller phone for other reasons. So with the Galaxy S3 Mini, Samsung attempted to accommodate those people, with a smaller version of the extremely popular Galaxy S3.

Of course those in the know would remember that the Galaxy S3 Mini was merely a shadow of its big brother. But thanks to the familiarity and brand recognition it was a good seller. A good enough seller, it seems, that Samsung is interested in making a successor in the form of the Galaxy S4 Mini, or at least that’s what plenty of reports claim.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

What the Galaxy S4 Mini means is that Samsung sees a smaller form factor a big enough reason for people to choose a particular smartphone model, even if they have to skip out on the latest and greatest specs. That allows Samsung to leverage the S4 brand and enables it to sell a lot more smartphones than it normally could have, had it blessed the S4 Mini with a name like Galaxy Pop, for example.

This leaves Samsung prone to its strategy backfiring, if Samsung is serious about the smaller form factor, why doesn’t it invest enough money to make the S4 Mini a legitimate competitor to the iPhone 5? That way Samsung could control all three points of the smartphone market in a three pronged attack. The Galaxy S4 Mini for the smaller form factor, the Galaxy S4 for the middlers, and the Galaxy Note 3 towering above the rest.

Unfortunately if the rumored specs are anything to go by, the Galaxy S4 Mini will be nothing but a mid-range phone with a famous name.

A smartphone with a great camera, there’s an S4 for that

The S4 is no longer a single smartphone it seems, it’s a legion of handsets to cover your every need. So if you want to dump your DSLR, but simply aren’t satisfied with the pictures that smartphones produce, you should know that Samsung reportedly plans on introducing a variant of the S4 to please those who take pride in the pictures they take.

Not a lot is known about the Galaxy S4 Zoom, but it is rumored to include a 16-megapixel camera with optical zoom. Whether or not the camera will be good enough to make people get rid of their DSLRs, is a question that is yet to be answered. Although, a purported photograph taken with the Galaxy S4 Zoom has made its way to the Internet and is down below for you to behold.

samsung galaxy s4 zoom

A tweaker not a tweeter, there’s an S4 for that

The Galaxy S4 Google Edition certainly raised eyebrows, and in some circles clouded the definition of a Nexus device. Samsung’s sales philosophy is very different to Apple’s. Whereas Apple believes in gaining the maximum profit out of its products and therefore only makes high-end devices, Samsung makes a range of products, spanning almost every nook and cranny of the smartphone market.

A sale is a sale, no matter where it comes from. Of course the Galaxy S4 Google Edition isn’t being sold at near cost like other Nexus devices. This version of the S4 is being sold at an eye watering $649, so Samsung isn’t sacrificing profits here either.

Google-IO-Galaxy S4 Google Edition price 1600 aa

Whether the S4 Google Edition is merely a peace offering to Google, or not, Samsung further strengthens its brand appeal and flexibility with a stock Android-running Galaxy S4, appealing to a market that would normally not be interested in a TouchWiz version of the S4.

Spend more time on the high seas than the high streets of Manhattan, there’s an S4 for that

The Sony Xperia Z might have attracted Samsung’s attention enough, for the company to contemplate creating an S4 that was water and dustproof as well. Heavy duty smartphones are far from what you call sexy, they are often slow, underpowered, low-specced and wouldn’t exactly win a Miss Universe contest anytime soon.

The Xperia Z changed it all, however with its back and front adorned with glass, it’s far from what we call “heavy duty.” Samsung recognised the appeal of a high-end device that could take a beating and has since been rumored to have begun developing a version of the S4 that was more ruggedized, dubbed the Galaxy S4 Active.

galaxy s4 vs xperia z standing aa

The Galaxy S4 Active is rumored to keep most of the original S4’s specifications, but to have a slightly downgraded processor. So if you wanted to pick up an S4, but simply wasn’t sure that it could take a beating, Samsung wants you to rest assured, a smartphone with you in mind is coming your way.

Wrap up

Samsung has world domination in mind, and the Galaxy S brand seems like the perfect way to leverage Samsung into the forefront of technology. But Samsung’s plan on creating a legion of S4 versions to conquer the world could backfire horrendously.

The S4 Mini’s rumoured specs aren’t exactly to die for, and the Galaxy S4 Zoom’s camera could turn out to be a flop. Even the Google Edition of the S4 with its high price and limited audience could fail, leaving customers with a bad taste in their mouths, and we all know keeping customers happy is a major part of business 101.

Do you think Samsung is doing the right thing including many smartphones in the same high-end Galaxy S4 brand? Or is this simply hurting Samsung’s image? Do you plan on picking up any of the many editions of the Galaxy S4?

  • Miguel Bleau

    samsung will be fine, the average consmer which is the majority still love it

  • icyrock1

    I wish they’d treat there “Mini” handsets has good has they do there big handsets. Give it a 720p screen, S4 pro, and it would be a beast…

  • The Guy

    The only reason Samsung is dominating is the lack of costumer awareness and Samsung’s ads filling the street became the only way to see a phone. People mistakenly relate Android only to Samsung, so they ignore other brands

    If SONY for example, had an ad budget greater than Samsung’s -even if by a $1 difference- Samsung then will end up like Nokia

    • Zag

      i like how people have vivid imagination and write whatever they feel like…!!

      • simpleas

        Kids these days be on all kinds of drugs. Samsung makes BILLIONS because they have the best tech and ad combo. All you little dogs.. htc and the rest.. shush and BOW DOWN to the King lol woot~

  • Stychill

    Once a friend of mine said he was migrating from blackberry and buying a new phone, “a galaxy” he said “oh you’re going for an android this time” was my reply. He answered with “yea i was going for either a samsung galaxy or an android”, “A samsung galaxy device is an android”. his reply was


  • Honestly speaking I am a bit annoyed! 3 months back I got Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for my self, and within couple of months, I saw 3-4 similar looking devices with almost similar size and even similar flip covers! The exclusivity of my note 2 was lost! Same thing is happening to S4 with S4 mini, active and zoom in the pipeline! I guess Samsung should give some uniqueness to their flagship devices. Galaxy is too broad to be defined as a Niche Model brand with phones ranging from 100 USD to 700 USD. If I don’t see a change, I will shift to either Nexus or HTC device.

    Android Smartphones

    • Zag

      Agreed…like the iPhone 4S lost its exclusivity when the 5 came out! :P


    Almost as diluted as android.

    • Andrew Baxendale

      I see you hating on the Android OS on other websites like TechnoBuffallo, yet you visit a site that is strictly Android news to bash it? Now how does that make sense? You either secretly love Android or have too much free time.

    • SeraZR™

      like yourself for instance?

    • simpleas


  • Ummm… dump DSLR camera for a phone camera? That won’t happen anytime soon (and by that I mean before 2020, probably not even then).
    It’s ignorant to even claim that a phone camera can replace a system camera. Does the author of this article even know anything about photography?

    There is something called Samsung Galaxy Camera. Which is basically one large screen running android and acting as a camera. It looks a lot like a phone and can run all android applications. Cool, but that’s about it. The picture quality is just about… pathetic.

    • Adam Koueider

      Obviously it wouldn’t have the capabilities for a hardcore phtographer to drop their DSLR, but for the more casual photographer the Zoom could get them to give it up. The Galaxy Camera might be pathetic by SLR standards but I can guarantee it still is alot better than smartphone camera’s.

      It’s all about a person’s needs, those who post to facebook and instagram would get a smartphone. Those who have a bit higher standards can pick up a Zoom, but for the hardcore photographers you’re not swapping your DSLR out for a smartphone anytime soon.

      Phone cameras have already replaced SLR’s in most homes and a Galaxy S4 Zoom could bump that percentage even higher.

      I for one wouldn’t consider dropping my DSLR (it’s not a high-end one but its decent) for a phone camera anytime soon, but I know for a fact that some of my friends have been swayed over to phone cameras in recent years and the Zoom could tip them over the edge. But that’s what’s so great about Android, to each his own.

      • If you get a DSLR camera you’re either:
        1) Interested in high quality photography.
        2) Rich and have money to throw away on things you don’t need.
        Therefore I don’t see why would anyone drop their HQ camera for something so inferior. Unless you’re #2 and get bored of a bulkier camera. But those people don’t matter.

        • Adam Koueider

          That is if you are buying a DSLR now, a few years ago phone cameras were abysmal, so you had to buy a digital camera (whether it be a compact or DSLR).

          I remember the days when a lot of homes owned an SLR, now not so much. Remember, the best camera is the one that’s with you, and since we almost always have our smartphones with us, why shouldn’t we try to make them as good as possible?

          Your point is very valid, but I still say kudos to Samsung (and HTC) for pushing smartphone photography to its limits.

          • I agree with you. There is no progress without experimenting with new things. I hope that one day I will be able to use my smartphone and take breathtaking pictures. But before that, they will have to shrink DSLR lenses and make them a lot cheaper to actually fit on a smartphone. Which will take a while.

  • Oli72

    Samsung is killing the market. This is the blueprint for all to see. LG is the closes one to Samsung as far as the market sales.

  • m46h1n3

    Seriously guys you think 649$ is a lot of money?
    in croatia s4 is 1000$ because of transport.
    if i could get s4 for that price of 649$ i would buy 2 of them

  • i often heard normal consumer said they prefer samsung galaxy than sony xperia because samsung galaxy can do bla..bla..bla… it feels WTF! they are both android!

    • simpleas

      yeah, one is plain jane android and the other is mighty touch wiz with tons of practical features. features I use everyday. At this point I honestly feel like there’s samsung and the rest are just another android.

      • Acaa Aca

        i do agree. i use multi window and hover on my note 10.1. if only they have this on other android it would be great.

      • As I said, this statement comes from normal (or uninformed) consumer. Most of them just recognise Samsung, not Android. And features that they said and want to use are the same regardless the phone has touchwiz or not.

  • Samsung has zero innovation

    • simpleas

      So everyone else has -1000 innovation then? rofl thanks for the laugh.

  • Darthsanzo

    For 649$ I think it would s4 ge will still sell. Just hope they could do an international release of this fone. Will it be sporting a microsd as well?
    When I got a my first android it was a Hero and i loved it, Moved to s2 and now a proud of owner of note 2. I think whats making Samsung really popular is the ads that they give good importance and also the fact that they cater to what masses really needs.

  • vampyren

    I have TW version of S4 and i’m pretty happy, would like to have 32gig model as 16 has small amount of internal memory left but still i love the phone.